Family Alleging Roadside Strip Search, Racial Profiling & Slurs, Sues Florida Cops

Oct 28, 2004, 01:00 ET from Rubin & Rubin, Attorneys and Counselors

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A Palm Beach County family
 was planning for a relaxing weekend while visiting relatives, but say they
 ended up being targeted by deputies in upstate Florida who mistook them for
 wanted drug dealers.  They say they were so terrorized by deputies in rural
 northern Florida they've filed a federal lawsuit for damages in excess of
     The McCloud family from Delray Beach, Florida was visiting relatives in
 Jefferson County, Florida, near the town of Monticello, when they were pulled
 over by Sheriff's Deputies for allegedly speeding.  Deputies asked to search
 their vehicle, which they readily consented to, and nothing was found. But
 deputies didn't stop there.  A slew of other deputies soon showed up with a
 K-9 unit.  The police dog picked up a scent near the rear of the car and the
 McClouds explained to the deputies that barbecue ribs were in the trunk.  The
 police dog did not find any drugs, but it continued to bark at the family's
 15-year-old daughter.
     "We were afraid for our lives and I tried to explain to the deputies that
 my daughter was menstruating," said Arnetta McCloud.  "But they treated us
 like criminals and we will never forget what happened next."
     A female deputy was called from nearby Leon County and upon her arrival
 the female deputy searched Mrs. McCloud and allegedly groped Mrs. McCloud's
 genital area without even using a sterile glove.  The McCloud's 15-year-old
 daughter was then ordered to remove her clothes and bend over in full view of
 passing cars and male deputies.  The female deputy then performed an illegal
 and unnecessary cavity search on the minor.
     Though no drugs were ever found, the McClouds say it only got worse as one
 of the white deputies allegedly made racial slurs stating that his family used
 to own members of the McCloud family and his family also used to own their
 relatives' home in Jefferson County.
     After three hours on the roadside, the McClouds told deputies they were
 visiting the King family, who are relatives.  Deputies then forced the McCloud
 family back to the King home.  Upon arrival around 3:00 a.m., deputies barged
 through a half-open door and threw Mr. King to the ground.  Deputies illegally
 ransacked the home, but once again, no citations were issued and no arrests
 were made.  The McClouds and the Kings say they were threatened and told "that
 they better not tell anyone or make any trouble."
     A few months later, in early October 2001, Mr. McCloud and his attorney
 Guy Rubin filed an action to release public records regarding the illegal
 search.  The Jefferson County Sheriff refused.  "The day after we requested a
 court hearing on the records' release, deputies were sent to Mr. McCloud's
 home in Delray Beach," said Rubin.  "This was total retribution and good ole
 boy intimidation."  Mr. McCloud was cuffed in the middle of the night, and
 then whisked to North Florida without any notice.
     Mr. McCloud was falsely accused of possession of cocaine and intent to
 sell cocaine, and faced twenty years in prison. The deputies claimed the
 arrest was justified from information they gained from a confidential
 informant who was later identified as a relative of the lead Jefferson County
 Sheriff's Office detective.
     McCloud spent nearly a week in jail.  Prosecutors and Sheriff's attorneys
 then attempted to coerce a release of all civil liability for civil rights
 violations in exchange for dropping the criminal charges.  Mr. McCloud would
 not take the deal, but prosecutors dropped the charges anyway.
     Since Mr. McCloud was fearful of more retribution and being falsely
 arrested again, the family has waited until now to file this lawsuit, because
 the statute of limitation has run out on any possible criminal charges.
     The McCloud family and the King family have filed a federal lawsuit which
 claims deputies violated their civil rights.  Attorney Guy Rubin says they
 will ask for damages in excess of $10,000,000.
     Case #04-80984 Unites States District Court, Southern District of Florida,
 West Palm Beach Division.

SOURCE Rubin & Rubin, Attorneys and Counselors